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Baseline Study on Microplastics in Indian Rivers under Different Anthropogenic Influences

Lechthaler, Waldschläger, Sandhani, Sannasiraj, Sundar, Schwarzbauer & Schüttrumpf 
June, 2021

Microplastic particles are found in environmental compartments all over the world and receive a great deal of attention, especially in the aquatic environment. Currently, a particularly high input of microplastics via Asian rivers is assumed, but so far, there are hardly any data through field measurements. Three rivers in South India were considered for this purpose to focus on their microplastic load. The emphasis was on the comparison of microplastic concentrations in urban and rural rivers. While two rivers in the megacity Chennai (Tamil Nadu) were found to have an average microplastic concentration of 0.4 microplastic particles/L, a rural river near Munnar (Kerala) had an average concentration of 0.2 microplastic particles/L. Rough estimates of annual microplastic discharge from the Adyar River (Chennai) into the Bay of Bengal are found to be as high as 11.6 trillion microplastic particles. This study should be one of the first baseline studies for microplastic loads in South Indian streams and should be complemented with further environmental sampling before, during and after the monsoon season to get more detailed information on the storage and transportation of fluvial microplastics under different weather conditions.

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